There are not many people that would look into the eyes of an innocent baby and hand them a death sentence, but that is exactly what happened with Luna the calf. After being separated from her mother within hours of being born, Luna was placed in a small, dark room with a chain around her neck. At just four days old, the dairy farm where she was living called the local veterinarian to come and euthanize her. Luna was supposed to become a dairy cow, eventually replacing her mother in the herd, but her mother had a parasitic disease that causes abortion, which had likely passed to Luna. The farmer did not want to take the chance of raising her only to find out later she was unable to give birth. Although Luna was an otherwise healthy calf, the farmer had made up his mind. When the vet came, however, he knew he could not take this young calf’s life away from her.
After a quick phone call to Mino Valley Farm Sanctuary, he bundled her into his car and drove Luna to her new home. When we, the staff at Mino Valley Farm Sanctuary, first saw her, we were blown away with her beauty. Within seconds, she was licking our hands and leaping around. We could already tell she was going to be quite the character. A mother’s milk is crucial for the health of a calf, especially in the first few weeks of life. The only viable alternative for Luna was a milk replacement, which unfortunately caused her to become sick with diarrhea. After a whole lot of love and medical care, Luna pulled through those first weeks and has been thriving at the sanctuary for over a month now. She has become best friends with one of our resident lambs and spends her days running around the pasture, eating clovers and sleeping in the ferns. Luna’s story had a happy ending, but not all dairy calves are so lucky. Unfortunately cows born into the dairy industry suffer one of three dreadful fates:
1. Females deemed suitable for milk production are condemned to a life of exploitation and bodily abuse, where they will be forced to give birth, have their babies taken away and be milked on a continuous cycle until they are deemed “spent” at just four years old (and subsequently slaughtered).
2. Male calves are sold to veal farmers, where they will endure a short life of just a few months. During this time, they are confined to tiny crates with no exercise and fed a nutrient-deficient milk replacer.
3. Female calves not being used for herd replacement will be killed at just five or six days old as they are seen to have no purpose or value at all to the farmers. These calves are seen as “waste products” of the industry.
Each cow that is born into the dairy industry is just as deserving of a fulfilling life as Luna, yet as long as there is a demand for cow’s milk, millions of innocent cows will suffer a dreadful fate at the hands of the industry. Thankfully, there are plenty of healthier, tastier and cruelty-free alternatives to cow’s milk, including almond milk, oat milk, rice milk, soy milk and many more.
Make a positive difference to animals and make the switch.